Tag: Grawemeyer Award

Clans

Rutgers University law professor (and bloggerMark S. Weiner has been awarded the 2015 Grawemeyer Award for Ideas Improving World Order for ideas set forth in his 2013 book, The Rule of the Clan: What an Ancient Form of Social Organization Reveals About the Future of Individual Freedom. The award includes a $100,000 cash prize and is administered by the University of Louisville.

The book makes a fairly complicated argument about clans, identity groups, liberal democracy, states, and national security. The press release ostensibly explains the highly readable book’s main argument:  Continue reading

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2014 Grawemeyer Award Winner

Congratulations to Jacques E.C. Hymans for winning the 2014 Grawemeyer Award for Ideas Improving World Order. The award is administered by the University of Louisville’s Department of Political Science. Disclosure: I’m currently the Department chair and for 17 years I directed the award (1994-2011). There’s more on the local angle at the end of this post.

Hymans won the $100,000 prize for his 2012 book Achieving Nuclear Ambitions; Scientists, Politicians, and Proliferation. Here’s a brief description from the Cambridge University Press webpage: Continue reading

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2013 Grawemeyer Award Winner

Congratulations to Erica Chenoweth and Maria Stephan for winning the 2013 Grawemeyer Award for Ideas Improving World. As readers may recall, Chenoweth is a Duck of Minerva guest blogger.

Chenoweth and Stephan won the $100,000 prize for their 2011 book, Why Civil Resistance Works: The Strategic Logic of Nonviolent Conflict (Columbia University Press). This is a succinct description from the press website: Continue reading

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War and the Eurozone

PM and Chancellor Merkel press conference

Last week, at University of Bristol, I gave a talk called “The Future of World Order” to the student International Affairs Society. It was a speculative lecture, based on my 17 years directing the Grawemeyer Award (for Ideas Improving World Order) more than my scholarship per se. I warned the audience from the start of two personal biases: (1) I am an optimist; and (2) I don’t really put much stock in specific predictions. I tried to stick to big ideas more than particular policies.

In the presentation, I argued that any order built on coercion and force would inevitably face a legitimacy crisis — and would ultimately collapse. The implications are twofold, I think. Domestically, people will demand greater control of their own lives. This means the world will see many more emancipatory movements to topple autocrats and unaccountable sources of power — as illustrated just this year by events in Egypt, Syria, Libya, Bahrain, the city of London, Wall Street, etc.

Internationally, it means order built on deterrence, brute force, or even the balance of power will give way to something that is more consensual, such as a security community. In support of this position, I talked a bit about John Mueller’s thesis that major power war is becoming obsolete — an outmoded institution, abandoned like slavery and dueling previously were. Could this thinking become even more pervasive, so that virtually any talk of war — internal or external — becomes outmoded? Eventually.

In the talk, I did not explicitly argue against the traditional state-centrism of international relations, nor call for the end of the states-system. However, I strongly implied that the future of world order will be more cooperative, focused on low rather than high politics (elevating the human security agenda), and much less violent.

This week, recovering from jet lag, I’ve been following the efforts to save the euro and Eurozone. One interesting aspect is that conservative leaders in Europe have certainly made some bold claims to sell their preferred outcomes. For instance, while traveling in Australia, British Prime Minister David Cameron used some classic statist language to highlight his concerns about the implications of ongoing negotiations:

“This is our key national interest, that Britain, a historic trading nation, has its biggest markets open and continues to have those markets fairly open and fairly governed.”

He later told the BBC’s political editor Nick Robinson: “In business often it’s selling more to your existing customers that’s the best strategy.

What his comments reveal is that when – if – the eurozone crisis ends, big political questions will replace the big economic problems”

“We’re big sellers into Europe, we can do better in those markets if we liberalise further.”

Mr Cameron has vowed to protect the UK’s position and said on Friday that the City of London was one “area of concern… a key national interest that we need to defend”.

“London – the centre of financial services in Europe – is under constant attack through Brussels directives,” he said.

Note the words and phrases Cameron used: “key national interest,” “attack” and “defend.”

Next, consider these remarks Wednesday from German Chancellor Angela Merkel:

“Nobody should take for granted another 50 years of peace and prosperity in Europe. They are not for granted. That’s why I say: If the euro fails, Europe fails,” Merkel said, followed by a long applause from all political groups.

“We have a historical obligation: To protect by all means Europe’s unification process begun by our forefathers after centuries of hatred and blood spill. None of us can foresee what the consequences would be if we were to fail.”

Gulp.

Based on these quotes, scholars should perhaps worry about the long-term durability of Mueller’s thesis.

Well, at least slavery is gone. Right?

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Mortenson declines Education Grawemeyer

In addition to filling an open faculty line in international relations (IR), I was hired in 1991 by the University of Louisville with the idea that I would eventually direct the Grawemeyer Award for Ideas Improving World Order. The World Order award was then one of four Grawemeyer Awards and at the time I was hired, I knew virtually nothing about any of them. The prize was worth $150,000, making it the largest award in Political Science. Nonetheless, it was not especially well-known even within the discipline, nor much publicized outside of it, though the earliest prizes were awarded to prominent IR scholars and Political Scientists like Samuel Huntington, Robert Jervis, Robert Keohane and Richard Neustadt.

The annual awards in Education and Religion were also relatively unknown. The award in Music Composition, however, apparently became a major global award and typically receives media coverage in the New York Times and other global outlets. The award amount eventually increased to $200,000 (though it decreased after the 2008 stock market dip) and a fifth award in Psychology was added in 2001. Sporadically, awards other than Music Composition have received a modicum of publicity.

The World Order Award winner received a great deal of publicity in 1994 when Mikhail Gorbachev visited Louisville to speak and collect his payment. Though this selection occurred just before I assumed leadership of the World Order Award, I recall that most of the coverage concerned his missing pants truly. While I have never believed that the lack of media interest in the World Order winners reflected anything in particular about the field or the winning ideas, it can be frustrating laboring in relative obscurity. Many people reading this post have perhaps reviewed for the award in the past — and I know that many had never really heard about the prize until I asked them to read for it.

In any case, there are clearly far worse fates than being unknown to the wider world. Earlier this year, on April 14 — after months of delay and behind-the-scenes negotiation — the Education winner for 2011 was announced: Greg Mortenson, author of the bestselling book, Three Cups of Tea.

Was this the academic equivalent of the Grammy award for Milli Vanilli?


A few days later, “60 Minutes” ran the famous story questioning his honesty, humanitarianism, and research integrity. A couple of days after that story broke, best-selling author Jon Krakauer published a digital book slamming Mortenson for lying and losing “his moral bearings.”

Needless to say, this created a publicity nightmare for the University of Louisville and for my colleagues in the School of Education, who administer the prize. Time magazine ran a piece detailing the trouble and the story of the university’s apparent gaffe made more news than most of the awards ever have.

This weekend, roughly one week before Mortenson was scheduled to visit Louisville, speak, and collect his prize, the University announced that Mortenson had decided not to accept the award.

“We, like millions of others, have been inspired by Greg’s work and we share his commitment to education and to his belief that we can provide a more peaceful future for all our children through knowledge and friendship,” [Provost Shirley] Willihnganz said.

While UofL will not give the 2011 Grawemeyer Award in Education, Willihnganz said the university will provide $50,000 in privately funded scholarships (unrelated to the Grawemeyer endowment) to students who decide to major in education and agree to teach in Louisville’s poorest schools.

I have watched this affair unfold with both a sense of distance and uncomfortable proximity. Most of what I know about the Mortenson case has been learned by reading the newspapers and press releases. Each of the awards is quite distinct and I rarely see the faculty involved in the other awards — Psychology is a bit of an exception since it is part of Arts & Sciences. However, Education, Music, and Religion are located in completely different colleges within the University organizational chart.**

For months, people in Louisville and fellow scholars have asked me about Mortenson because they assume my involvement in World Order grants me access to the inside scoop. That is not the case.

Over the years, as you might expect, the World Order award has received nominations supporting fairly prominent political figures. Most of them, like Gorbachev, have baggage associated with their work even if they are best known for remarkable ideas or (more likely) for engineering dramatic political changes. Reviewers and the screening committee are supposed to focus on the nominated material, but these external issues inevitably loom in the background — and press against the foreground. I have no doubt that some ideas were considered more seriously at some steps in the multi-stage selection process precisely because they emanated from famous figures.

The Grawemeyer review process involves nearly a full year of hard work to select a single work — and awarding the prize to a well-known figure can bring immediate attention to the entire effort. I do not believe that the Education committee selected Mortenson because of his name recognition. However, I do think that the selection serves as a cautionary tale for anyone involved in the review process. It could be read, in fact, as another point in favor of blind review.

Before closing, I should note that I resigned my position directing the Grawemeyer Award for Ideas Improving World order in the spring, effective June 30, 2011. Our department chair had announced his intention to depart for another university, the faculty elected (and the Dean selected) me to succeed him, and I had a one semester sabbatical coming in fall 2011 that I did not want to interrupt. It seemed like a good time for a transition. As it happens, the chair of our Political Science department serves on the Final Selection Committee for the World Order award, meaning that I will again have some important Grawemeyer duties in fall of 2012.

** Correction/note: The Religion award is administered by a University faculty committee in conjuction with the Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary. The long-time coordinator of the award, Susan R. Garrett, holds a faculty position at the Seminary.

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Last call: 2012 Grawemeyer Award Nominations

Annually, the University of Louisville awards significant cash prizes in five fields: Music Composition, Religion, Education, Psychology, and Ideas Improving World Order. Next year, the prize will be at least $100,000 in each category.

For over 15 years, I have directed the administration of the award for the World Order award. Basically, I chair the initial review committee that is housed within the Department of Political Science — and oversee the rest of the process.

The World Order Award’s basic purpose is described on our webpage:

Submissions will be judged according to originality, feasibility and potential impact, not by the cumulative record of the nominee. They may address a wide range of global concerns including foreign policy and its formation; the conduct of international relations or world politics; global economic issues, such as world trade and investment; resolution of regional, ethnic or racial conflicts; the proliferation of destructive technologies; global cooperation on environmental protection or other important issues; international law and organization; any combination or particular aspects of these, or any other suitable idea which could at least incrementally lead to a more just and peaceful world order.

All relevant ideas published or publicly presented between January 2006 and December 2010 are potentially eligible. Previously submitted nominations may be resubmitted.

Perhaps you know of a work that should be nominated — or perhaps you authored such a work. If so, I would encourage you to act now (and read the rest of this post). The Department is accepting nomination forms and cover letters for the 2012 competition until Friday, January 14, 2011. Completed 2012 files are due by February 14, 2011.

The Grawemeyer webpage includes useful information about the nomination and selection processes and hosts material about past winners and their prize-winning works. Regular Duck readers may recall that I write an annual post about the winner. The post about the 2011 winner, Kevin Bales, can be found here.

The initial submission process is relatively simple:

Nominators must complete a very short form (available as a pdf file on the webpage) and submit a nomination letter. We especially encourage nominations from individual scholars and policy-makers, though we most frequently receive them from publishers. Self-nomination is permitted, but keep in mind that reviewers receive copies of these letters (update: apparently, self-nomination is no longer allowed).

We will also need four copies of the nominated work; however, publishers typically provide all books.

For further information, just visit the website or contact me or my assistant, Ms. Arlene Brannon. We do accept scanned or faxed copies of forms to open nomination files and establish that initial deadlines have been met.

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2011 Grawemeyer winner

Kevin Bales, President of Free the Slaves, has won the 2011 Grawemeyer Award for Ideas Improving World Order. The prize is worth $100,000 this year.

The press release describes the award-winning ideas from Ending Slavery, the most recent book published by Bales with University of California Press:

In the book, Bales outlines steps to end the enslavement of some 27 million people worldwide. Slavery and human trafficking are tightly interwoven into the modern global economy, so new political and economic policies must be enacted to suppress them, he says.

Slavery, illegal in every country but still widely practiced, can be stopped within 30 years at a cost of less than $20 billion, a much cheaper price tag than most other social problems, he argues…

“Bales lays out an urgent human challenge, offers ways to make a difference and challenges the reader to become part of the solution,” award jurors said.

Since 2001, Bales’ group has liberated thousands of slaves in India, Nepal, Haiti, Ghana, Brazil, Ivory Coast and Bangladesh.

The Chronicle of Higher Education covered the story, as did the local Louisville Courier Journal and other news outlets. This is from the local paper:

[Bales] estimates that modern slavery puts tens of billions of dollars worth of products into the global economy each year. And while every country has laws against slavery, some don’t enforce them or provide few resources to fight it.

Bales’ ideas for suppressing it involve a mix of tightening government enforcement on illegal trafficking; enacting new policies for businesses that identify when slavery is connected to global supply chains; and adding more grassroots efforts to help free groups of slaves — and then help them get basic skills to avoid such traps again.

Bales said individuals can also help by buying Fair Trade goods and choosing socially responsible investment options.

“There’s no magic bullet,” Bales said. “But there is a box of magic bullets,”

Bales was trained as a sociologist at LSE, but IR theorists interested in norm construction, human rights, and/or scholarly activism will want to check out the award-winning book, as well as other scholarship Bales has produced on this topic.

Disclosure: I chair the Department Committee that overseas the administration of this prize. This entails soliciting external book reviews, chairing a first-round screening committee, bringing together a panel of experts to evaluate and rank a set of semi-finalists, and making sure that the information gleaned from these processes is advanced to a Final Selection Committee.

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2010 Grawemeyer winner

Trita Parsi, who heads the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), has won the 2010 Grawemeyer Award for Ideas Improving World Order. The prize is worth $200,000.

The press release describes the award-winning ideas from Parsi’s Yale University Press book:

Improving relations between Iran and Israel is the key to achieving lasting peace in the Middle East, says the winner of the 2010 University of Louisville Grawemeyer Award for Ideas Improving World Order.

Trita Parsi, co-founder and president of the National Iranian American Council, earned the prize for ideas set forth in his 2007 book, “Treacherous Alliance: The Secret Dealings of Israel, Iran and the U.S.” He received the award from among 54 nominations worldwide.

The rivalry between Iran and Israel is driven more by a quest for regional power rather than by conflicting beliefs, Parsi says. Instead of trying to isolate Iran from the rest of the world, the United States should rehabilitate Iran into the Middle East’s economic and political order in return for Iran making significant changes in its behavior, including ending its hostilities against Israel.

Parsi interviewed more than 130 senior Israeli, Iranian and U.S. decision-makers before writing “Treacherous Alliance,” which also won a Council on Foreign Relations award last year for most significant foreign policy book.

The Chronicle of Higher Education covered the story, as did the local Louisville Courier Journal. This is from the latter:

Parsi said “the thesis of the book is that what you are seeing in the Middle East right now is not an ideological battle between democracy and theocracy. You’re seeing a classic power struggle between some of the most powerful states in the region.”

Iran and Israel are using the rest of the Middle East as a stage for that competition, he said.

“When you do have a strategic competition, and a strategic rivalry, there actually is room for compromises, there is room for accommodation and there is a possibility of a win-win situation,” Parsi said. “But if you have an ideological battle, then you are left with a position in which there is only the victory of one side over the other and conflict essentially becomes inevitable.”

Paradoxically, both Israel and Iran want their competition viewed as an ideological struggle because that is each nation’s best hope for winning support from friends in the region, he said. Few of those friends would be particularly interested only in helping Israel or Iran become predominant powers in the region, Parsi said.

The antipathy between the two nations goes back only about two decades, he said.

For most of their history, Parsi said, “the relations between the Jewish people and the Iranian people tended to be very positive.”

The Louisville newspaper story points out some of the recent controversy surrounding NIAC’s alleged lobbying — and many of the smears against Parsi are reminiscent of the attacks on John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt for their book on the Israeli lobby.

I’m quoted in the press release:

“Most efforts to achieve peace in the Middle East focus on the clash between Israel and the Palestinians,” said Rodger Payne, a UofL political science professor who directs the award. “Parsi says the best way to stabilize the region is for the U.S. to act in a more balanced way toward Iran and Israel, which would de-escalate the geopolitical and nuclear rivalry between the two.”

The book is an interesting work of IR scholarship, with a fundamentally realist take on the relations between Israel and Iran. Interestingly, Parsi argues that Iran long acted upon realist thinking towards Iran even as its talk reflected ideology.

Disclosure: I chair the Department Committee that overseas the administration of this prize. This entails soliciting external book reviews, chairing a first-round screening committee, bringing together a panel of experts to evaluate and rank a set of semi-finalists, and making sure that the information gleaned from these processes is advanced to a Final Selection Committee.

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Seeking Grawemeyer Nominations: 2011 Prize

Annually, the University of Louisville awards significant cash prizes in five fields: Music Composition, Religion, Education, Psychology, and World Order.

For about 15 years, I have directed the administration of the Grawemeyer Award for Ideas Improving World Order. Basically, I chair the initial review committee that is housed within the Department of Political Science.

The Award’s basic purpose is described on our webpage:

Submissions will be judged according to originality, feasibility and potential impact, not by the cumulative record of the nominee. They may address a wide range of global concerns including foreign policy and its formation; the conduct of international relations or world politics; global economic issues, such as world trade and investment; resolution of regional, ethnic or racial conflicts; the proliferation of destructive technologies; global cooperation on environmental protection or other important issues; international law and organization; any combination or particular aspects of these, or any other suitable idea which could at least incrementally lead to a more just and peaceful world order.

The webpage also includes some useful information about the nomination and selection processes and material about past winners and their prize-winning works.

  • The 2010 prize will be announced on December 1 and I typically blog about the winner(s) here at the Duck.
  • The Department is accepting nominations for the 2011 competition until Thursday, January 15, 2010.

The initial submission process is relatively simple: Nominators must complete a very short form (available as a pdf file on the webpage) and submit a nomination letter. We especially encourage nominations from individual scholars and policy-makers, though we most frequently receive them from publishers. Self-nomination is permitted, though all nominators should note that reviewers will see these letters.

Completed 2011 files are due from nominees by February 16, 2010. We will need four copies of the nominated work, though publishers typically provide them for nominated books.

All relevant ideas published or publicly presented in any work between January 2005 and December 2009 are potentially eligible. Previously submitted nominations may be resubmitted.

For further information, just visit the website or contact me or my assistant, Ms. Arlene Brannon.

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2009 Grawemeyer winner

Colgate University Professor Michael Johnston has won the 2009 Grawemeyer Award for Ideas Improving World Order. The prize is worth $200,000.

The press release describes the award-winning ideas from Professor Johnston’s Cambridge University Press book:

Johnston, a political science professor at Colgate University in Hamilton, N.Y., earned the prize for ideas he set forth in his 2005 book, Syndromes of Corruption: Wealth, Power and Democracy.

Corruption can take different forms depending on a country’s political and economic patterns, Johnston says. The practice of using wealth to seek influence is more common in the United States, Japan and Germany, while forming cartels to protect the elite is more typically seen in Italy, Korea and Botswana.

In Russia, Mexico and the Philippines, countries with liberal economies and weak civil societies, fair market competition is even riskier. But the worst type of corruption — the plundering of society by those who retain absolute power — is nearly always seen in countries with growing economies and weak institutions.

Understanding how corruption develops in a particular country can help stop it more effectively, says Johnston


The Utica Observer Dispatch published a nice story about their local winner and his ideas:

“To have that kind of recognition after working on this since the late Nixon years, it’s sort of a nice experience,” he said.

Johnston’s book looks at different forms corruption takes in different places.

“What we tend to experience is the effort on the part of private parties using money to influence what happens in government,” he said of corruption in the U.S. “In other places, it’s some (individuals) inside government reaching into the economy and grabbing whatever they please,”

Understanding the root causes of corruption in other societies makes it easier to come up with the right solutions, he said.

The Chronicle of Higher Edcation covered the story, as did the local Louisville Courier Journal. This is from the latter:

[Johnston] said in an interview that the idea behind the book grew out of data that examined corruption and how it related to economic development — showing that corruption proved to be “sand in the gears rather than grease on the wheels.”

“It looked like, (as) the relationships got more and more complex and tangled up, the worse a country’s corruption situation was, and it began to make me wonder whether it isn’t … different places having different kinds,” he said.

These are my pithy quotes from the press release:

“Corruption is a pervasive global problem that undermines economic and political systems,”

“Johnston’s approach is particularly useful because it puts forward a practical agenda for reform.”

Disclosure: I chair the Department Committee that overseas the administration of this prize.

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2008 Grawemeyer winner

University of California, Berkeley, professor Philip Tetlock has won the 2008 Grawemeyer Award for Ideas Improving World Order. The prize is worth $200,000.

The December 3 Chronicle of Higher Education
has a brief piece that explains the rationale for the prize:

Predictions on political issues are frequently wrong, says Mr. Tetlock, which is unfortunate because lawmakers frequently rely on such analyses to shape policy. In a 20-year study of 27,000 predictions made by 284 “experts” cited in the news media, he found that, very often, the professionals were no more accurate in their crystal-ball gazing than ordinary people.

“In this age of academic hyperspecialization, there is no reason for supposing that contributors to top journals—distinguished political scientists, area-study specialists, economists, and so on—are any better than journalists or attentive readers of The New York Times in ‘reading’ emerging situations,” writes Mr. Tetlock in his 2005 book about the study, Expert Political Judgment: How Good Is It? How Can We Know? (Princeton).

Experts need to receive more training and be held publicly accountable for their advice, he argues in the book.

The university press release noted:

Award judges called the book “a landmark study that changes our understanding of the way experts perform when they make judgments about world politics.”

One of the members of the final selection committee outlined his support for Tetlock’s book in Tuesday’s local paper:

“It’s one of these really thorough, long-term projects,” [Professor Charles E.] Ziegler said. “He did a lot of interviews, spent a lot of time thinking it through. He was self-critical and balanced.”

In political science, many critics argue that it is not possible to be objective and scientific, yet Tetlock’s research shows “we can still strive for that,” Ziegler said.

And Tetlock’s observations have broad applications to decision-making and forecasting in many fields, Ziegler added.

The Louisville Courier Journal story by James Carroll also included this quote from the author about the irrationality of political discourse in the US:

“There seems to be a rather perverse, inverse relationship between what people find persuasive in political rhetoric and the qualities of reason that are conducive to accuracy in the political sphere,” he said. “There’s a trade-off between being persuasive and being right.”

The local paper also has a nice explanation of the way Tetlock casts experts as either foxes or hedgehogs.

Jacob Levy and Dan Drezner mentioned the prize on their blogs too.

Disclosure: I chair the Department Committee that overseas the administration of this prize.

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2007 Grawemeyer winner

University of Ottawa professor Roland Paris has won the 2007 Grawemeyer Award for Ideas Improving World Order. The prize is worth $200,000.

One of the members of the final selection committee outlined the main argument of Paris’ book in Tuesday’s local paper:

Charles Ziegler, chairman of U of L’s political science department, said Paris’ “institutionalization before liberalization” theory is an important contribution to international thinking about post-conflict peace missions.

“His proposal is for a new peace-building strategy,” Ziegler said. “It has real applicability to a lot of conflicts now,” including Iraq and Afghanistan, he said.

The Chronicle of Higher Education added this:

Mr. Paris is being recognized for his scholarship on how to establish and maintain peace after warfare. In his 2004 book At War’s End: Building Peace After Civil Conflict (Cambridge University Press), he outlines strategy proposals that he says NATO must adopt if it hopes to keep Afghanistan from reverting to a terrorist haven. According to the proposals, NATO should place less emphasis on its efforts to destroy Afghan poppy crops and more on training police and military forces, eliminating government corruption, and stemming the flow of fighters entering the nation from Pakistan.

If NATO cannot meet those objectives, he says, then it should withdraw.

The Louisville Courier-Journal article includes a juicy quote about Iraq:

“The postwar stabilization mission in Iraq was lost the day after the United States entered Baghdad with too few troops,” said Paris,

That paper also describes a bit about his book:

Paris’ book said that establishing such institutions as the police, courts and a government that can run basic services are more important to a nation in the early period after a civil war than rushing to democracy and opening economic markets.

In his book, he examined 14 cases in the 1990s involving international missions attempting to stabilize nations after civil wars. Among them were Bosnia, Angola, Rwanda, Nicaragua and Cambodia.

The article has some additional quotes about policy failings in both Iraq and Afghanistan, so I encourage everyone to read it for a brief overview of the scholarship.

Disclosure: I chair the Department Committee that overseas the administration of this prize.

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The Paradox of Humanitarian Action

I have been quite busy this week hosting Fiona Terry, author of Condemned to Repeat? The Paradox of Humanitarian Action, and 2006 winner of the Grawemeyer Award for Ideas Improving World Order. She’s been a great guest and the book is truly worth your time.

Terry, by the way, has a PhD in Political Science and International Relations from Australian National University — and has been a humanitarian field worker for about 15 years. At the time she published the book, she was research director for the French section of the Nobel-winning group, Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders).

Terry’s passport reflects a large part of the political history of the post-cold war era. She served in Somalia in the early 1990s, then (I’m not 100% sure of the order) Vietnam, northern Iraq, Rwanda, Liberia, and across the border from North Korea. She’s been in Myanmar (Burma) for about two and a half years and will leave there in October for some other global hotspot.

Today, before flying back to her current post for the International Red Cross, Terry was on a local public radio interview program, “State of Affairs.” If you are interested in her ideas, but don’t have access to the book, listen to the entire program from the website.

The archive is here. The April 21 show is not yet there, but I’ll try to post a link when it appears.

The Cornell University Press website explains the book’s main argument:

Humanitarian groups have failed, Fiona Terry believes, to face up to the core paradox of their activity: humanitarian action aims to alleviate suffering, but by inadvertently sustaining conflict it potentially prolongs suffering….

[She] makes clear that the paradox of aid demands immediate attention by organizations and governments around the world. The author stresses that, if international agencies are to meet the needs of populations in crisis, their organizational behavior must adjust to the wider political and socioeconomic contexts in which aid occurs.

Most recently, by the way, Terry’s book was seen under the arm of one of the world’s most famous international aid advocates. If you get People magazine, check out p. 13 of the April 3, 2006 edition.

Note: The University of Louisville gives the Grawemeyer World Order awardannually and I have administered it since 1995. There are four other $200,000 awards: for Religion, Psychology, Education and Music.

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First, do no harm

Fiona Terry, who currently works for the International Committee of the Red Cross in Myanmar, has won the 2006 Grawemeyer Award for Ideas Improving World Order. The Louisville Courier-Journal has the story that will likely be picked up by Australian papers soon:

Although well-intentioned, humanitarian aid to Rwandan refugees in Zaire became the fuel for more repression and death, Fiona Terry says.

For analyzing how that occurred and urging international aid groups to understand that their actions can have unintended consequences, Terry was awarded the 2006 University of Louisville Grawemeyer Award for Ideas Improving World Order….

Terry, 38, is an Australian who worked for Medicins sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) in camps in Zaire, now the Democratic Republic of Congo.

She wrote a book in 2002, “Condemned to Repeat? The Paradox of Humanitarian Action,” about that tragedy and similar ones in refugee camps around the world.

“Not enough organizations look into the political side of their aid, what they’re contributing to,” Terry said. “They turn a blind eye to it.”

The award is a $200,000 prize.

The book was published by Cornell University Press and is available in paperback.

Dr. Terry provided the newspaper with quite a bit of detail about the Zaire case:

In Zaire, Terry said she saw how the assistance that nations, including the United States, were sending was being diverted to illegitimate purposes.

“The aid was helping the refugees,” Terry said, “but the refugees were being controlled completely by the same people who had committed genocide in Rwanda.”

The majority Hutus had directed a bloodbath against the minority Tutsis, resulting in up to a million deaths and a mass exodus of Tutsis and moderate Hutus to neighboring countries.

As the Tutsis wrested power from the Hutus in Rwanda, many of those responsible for the mass killings ended up in the camps as well. They “were stealing the food and preventing the refugees from going home,” Terry said.

Eventually, the French section of Medicins sans Frontieres, including Terry, pulled out of Zaire.

“We have an obligation to say no sometimes — ‘This is unacceptable,’ ” Terry said.

The Hutu militia used the camps as bases to attack Rwanda, and in 1996 Rwanda attacked and destroyed the camps.

“Up to 200,000 people went missing from the camps,” Terry said. “It was really a slaughter.”

Terry also claims that aid to Afghan refugees in Pakistan gave birth to the Taliban.

I’m looking forward to meeting Terry in April when she visits Louisville. Full disclosure: I have been the chair of the Grawemeyer World Order committee for more than a decade.

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NOLA diaspora and International Norms

Under international law, the dispersed former citizens of New Orleans are now “internally displaced persons” (IDPs). Refugees, by contrast, are people who cross national borders when they flee their homes.

The University of Louisville awarded its 2005 Grawemeyer Award for Ideas Improving World Order to Roberta Cohen and Francis Deng for their efforts to develop Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement. Note: I administer this $200,000 annual award.

The principles

were presented to the UN Commission on Human Rights by the Representative [of the Secretary-General] in 1998.

The UN Commission and the General Assembly in unanimously adopted resolutions have taken note of the Principles, welcomed their use, and encouraged UN agencies, regional organizations, and NGOs to disseminate and apply them. Individual governments have begun to incorporate them in national policies and laws, international organizations and regional bodies have welcomed and endorsed them, and some national courts have begun to refer to them as relevant restatements of existing international law.

So what do these Guidelines say (also here) and how are they relevant to New Orleans? one that caught my eye:

Principle 3

National authorities have the primary duty and responsibility to provide protection and humanitarian assistance to internally displaced persons within their jurisdiction.

Not to play the “blame game,” but did you notice that it doesn’t say “state and local”?

Several of the principles make clear that displacement should be a last resort and that even in the case of natural disaster, people should only be made to leave their homes when “the safety and health of those affected requires their evacuation” (Principle 6). Clearly, some homes in the area were not flooded and some might argue that total evacuation of the region was not necessary. Caveat: I do not know the condition of gas and power lines in those areas. I only know that there are residents quite reluctant to leave even now who do not feel threatened.

Principle 7 includes these provisions pertinent to natural disaster cases:

(b) Adequate measures shall be taken to guarantee to those to be displaced full information on the reasons and procedures for their displacement and, where applicable, on compensation and relocation;

(c) The free and informed consent of those to be displaced shall be sought;

(d) The authorities concerned shall endeavour to involve those affected, particularly women, in the planning and management of their relocation;

(f) The right to an effective remedy, including the review of such decisions by appropriate judicial authorities, shall be respected.

Principle 11 concerns the safety of the displaced:

1. Every human being has the right to dignity and physical, mental and moral integrity.

2. Internally displaced persons, whether or not their liberty has been restricted, shall be protected in particular against:

(a) Rape, mutilation, torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, and other outrages upon personal dignity, such as acts of gender-specific violence, forced prostitution and any form of indecent assault

In addition to stories about rapes and other attacks in the temporary housing, there have been stories about locked doors and road blocks:

Principle 14

1. Every internally displaced person has the right to liberty of movement and freedom to choose his or her residence.

2. In particular, internally displaced persons have the right to move freely in and out of camps or other settlements.

Hmmm. What about the people relocated to the Superdome and Convention Center, as an interim measure? Principle 18:

1. All internally displaced persons have the right to an adequate standard of living.

2. At the minimum, regardless of the circumstances, and without discrimination, competent authorities shall provide internally displaced persons with and ensure safe access to:

(a) Essential food and potable water;

(b) Basic shelter and housing;

(c) Appropriate clothing; and

(d) Essential medical services and sanitation.

About that foreign help, even from Cuba. Principle 25:

1. The primary duty and responsibility for providing humanitarian assistance to internally displaced persons lies with national authorities.

2. International humanitarian organizations and other appropriate actors have the right to offer their services in support of the internally displaced. Such an offer shall not be regarded as an unfriendly act or an interference in a State’s internal affairs and shall be considered in good faith. Consent thereto shall not be arbitrarily withheld, particularly when authorities concerned are unable or unwilling to provide the required humanitarian assistance.

3. All authorities concerned shall grant and facilitate the free passage of humanitarian assistance and grant persons engaged in the provision of such assistance rapid and unimpeded access to the internally displaced.

I’ve merely highlighted some of the key concerns that I have had in the past week or so, but if you read the entire document, you will likely have others.

Former Clinton-era budget official for national security affairs, Gordon Adams, raises some of these issues, without the international normative angle, and draws a rather strong conclusion.

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